Are Natural Consequences A Good Discipline Choice?

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Natural Consequences are often talked about as the go-to gentle alternative to punitive actions like time-outs or removing privileges. Using natural consequences can, in fact, be an excellent parenting tool, but sometimes resorting to natural consequences may be ineffective and downright dangerous. When used properly, children can learn a lot from natural consequences, however sometimes those consequences might simply not bring about the learning from our child that we wish to see. natural consequences

Read about how Natural Consequences can be a powerful tool for gentle parenting in my post at Natural Parents Network – Is That Natural Consequence You are Allowing Really a Good Discipline Choice?

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

6 thoughts on “Are Natural Consequences A Good Discipline Choice?

  1. Hi Ariadne, I have a two year old son called Felix and he is awesome. both me and my wife try to parent him in a positive way, i.e he sleeps in our bed, still breast feeds and we don’t punish him or raise our voices to him ever. However he is a very forcefull and determined little man which are really good things to be encouraged. however, i find that it is a bit more difficult when we are cooking and he is running around the kitchen ect which to my mind is too dangerous. Often i find that trying to engage him with another activity or redirect him away he knows our adgenda and becomes upset, the same as if we were to physically remove him. Do you have any tips or comments?
    Thanks (in advance)
    Ben

    • Hi Ben,
      sometimes children will become upset when we set a limit (i.e. no running around the kitchen when people are cooking). It’s ok to hold that limit and simply empathize so they understand that the limit is important but that you understand their feelings. “You wish you could run around right now, and that sounds fun, it is not safe” It’s much kinder to go through this limit holding a few times consistently when it comes to safety issues than it is to go back and forth, this way the limit becomes very clear. Another option is to give a very clear choice ahead of time “running is not safe AND you can help with ________ instead or sit next to me which do you choose?” and if he has a hard time sticking to his choice, then back to option one, hold the limit, listen to the upset, if possible one parent stays with the child and the other one cooks until everyone is ready to try again… Cooking with a two year old (esp. at the end of the day) can be tricky but it does get easier overtime. If you can build in that time for empathizing with his upset for a few days, the idea of not running and choosing something else should catch on. I hope that helps!

  2. hi Ariadne I have a wonderful 3 year old (turned 3 2 weeks ago) he is very bright, loving and kind but he’s spirited and determined which are qualities I like in him but can be hard to deal with!
    His father & I separated and he has dealt with it very well.
    Yesterday his father & I took him to his first soccer practise..it was for 3-4 year olds, very casual with some practise of kicking etc then a friendly game. There we about 20 kids there…10-12 of them we lining up, listening & kicking properly, 3-4 we standing too terrified to kick & 3-4 were running around not really listening but having a super time…of course my son was one of the kids running around!
    My ex then decided our son was being naughty, scooped him up & took him to the car..when I got there our son was sobbing saying how sorry he was & begging to go back, my ex wouldn’t listen kept saying he was too naughty & “you will learn some discipline”. It was horrible. When I took him out of the car he said to me ” mama does daddy still like me.” Heart breaking. When I asked him about going again next week he said he can’t go as he’s too naughty.
    So my question is how would you have handled the soccer game in helping your super excited son to listen to the intructions ( which I don’t really think is that important at this stage, it’s more about fun & confidence) and what are your thoguhts on my ex’s way of handling it all. Thanks so much! ( sorry for the long post)
    Rebecca

    • Hi Rebecca,
      You have asked some great questions here. First about the soccer practice…children that are aged 3 and 4, on a first try for a sports activity depending on their temperament may not be ready to follow instructions the first few times they attend a game. Most experienced coaches for that age group know this and are more than willing to work around that, they make the activities fun, play based and interesting and are flexible so that children can participate as they feel ready and able. Some kids will need to “try” such a sport 3 if not 5 different times until they feel ready to participate. The more active “runners” many need to get to know and trust the coach before they can cooperate. These sports activities at a young age if kept fun and interesting can motivate children to be active as they grow, feel capable and proud of their own abilities. On the other hand, a negative experience can really lead to discouragement and disinterest. All that being said, on the soccer filed, it should be up to the coach to set the expectations and handle any problems, so unless the coach is reaching out and asking for the parents to step in, let the coach do his work to motivate the kids to participate.
      Often couples that are separated and co-parenting cab benefit from sitting either together or with a family counselor or coach to make a co-parenting plan of action. Such a plan helps reduce conflict and keeps expectations and boundaries clear, which is very helpful to the child’s wellbeing. It can be challenging to get couples (together or separated) on the same page about parenting practices clearly you care a great deal about your son and want to guide him in a positive way. The philosophy behind positive parenting is to use encouragement, safety and cooperative language to help children feel capable so words like “naughty” and “bad” are not helpful. Maybe you can find a way to express your concerns in a way to your ex that highlights the benefits of using encouragement and cooperative based language? Maybe you both could find an agreement that lets the coach do the teaching at soccer? hope that helps you a bit!

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